According to reports in the publication The Register this week, it was disclosed at the recent "Cybercrime in Betting and Gaming" conference in London that security services are conducting possible terrorism funding investigations involving online gambling.
Apparently security service operatives are running 23 ongoing investigations into the exploitation of gambling websites to finance terrorism.
The revelations come after the conviction of a man described as the "godfather of cyber-terrorism for al-Qaida" and two of his associates two years ago in which 3 men were convicted of inciting murder through website exhortations.
Tariq al-Daour, Waseem Mughal and Younes Tsouli reportedly used Windows-based Trojans to steal information such as credit card numbers, and then laundered the cash using Internet gambling sites. Between them they received sentences totaling 38 years (extended from an original 24 by the Court of Appeal).
Adding fuel to the fire were accusations that al-Daour had been accessing 17 online gaming sites while in Belmarsh prison! Al -Daour was also caught developing a website urging terror attacks in his cell at Belmarsh . When he refused to hand over his laptop a riot ensued as prison officers clashed with a group of al-Qaeda sympathisers. This earned him a further 10 years of imprisonment.
It also came to light that on an unnamed credit card company's database, all three men came up as clients; along with 17 others whose date of birth, nationality and first name matched the convicted three. Together they still had 190 pre-paid credit cards still in circulation, with balances of GBP 10 000 on each card.
At the Cybercrime conference, Robert Mitchell, director of World Check, gave out the information while warning the audience that the current investigations involved transnational groups mainly across Denmark, Sweden, the Baltic regions, Vietnam and China, reports The Register.
"Those are the particular areas of risk," he said. "This is huge business."
World-Check is a private intelligence company which works with 49 of the world's top 50 banks and 200 enforcement and regulatory agencies, sharing its database of known 'heightened-risk individuals and businesses'.
Mitchell disclosed that all told, al-Daour and his compatriots made more than $3.5 million in fraudulent charges using credit card accounts stolen via online phishing scams and the distribution of Trojans. The group conducted 350 transactions at 43 different Online Gambling sites, using more than 130 compromised credit cards.